Today I’m taking on religion.
I’m not really interested in debating the premise of each religion, we all believe what works for us and I defend everyone’s right to do so. I know that there’s a sense of right and wrong in terms of the differences in the beliefs of religions. I disagree. When it comes to beliefs there’s only right and wrong for any given person.
But more and more I see people who want to belong met with rejection. I see people of all different faiths openly and deliberately looking to exclude others. This isn’t high school, this is organized religion.
I do see the value in age old traditions. I understand that religions don’t operate by constantly changing their doctrine. One of what I think is the primary roles of religion is to provide a moral compass. A staunch and unchanging moral compass. There has to be stability in terms of right and wrong. A religion cannot survive by being totally reactionary to societal changes.
But there is nothing wrong with progression and growth in terms of how we interpret the breadth of what is right. If we say that G-d loves all of his children, but in the past those of certain lifestyles have been excluded, excommunicated, shunned even, we do not lessen the tenet by coming to the conclusion that we need to exclude none.
Further down the slippery slope of exclusion are religious groups dedicated to discrimination, negativity and hate. We give them validation by calling these groups a church. They should not have tax-exempt status. In fact, it’s an insult to our society that they do.
Please excuse the simplistic baking analogy, but if you love chocolate chip cookies, only make chocolate chip cookies, are only friends with people who eat chocolate chip cookies, even if you decide that you will never try a lemon cookie, how do people who love Limoncello Cookies lesson your love of chocolate chip cookies?
And with increasing frequency we’re moving this issue out of the chapel and into the political arena. Following the analogy, to then seek to pass laws based on our belief that G-d only loves people who eat chocolate chip cookies, are we promoting the values of our religion, or are we really just using our religion to promote our own prejudices?
Bullying in the name of G-d. Isn’t this blasphemy?
Although I’m not exclusively speaking of homophobia, it’s a good example of what I’m trying to say because:
*A representative in one state has proposed a bill that will do away with all marriage licenses unless issued by a member of the clergy. Legalized exclusion.
*Another state is talking about a legal way to be sure that their state employees are not traumatized by forcing them to go against their religion in issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Legalized exclusion.
*I think we’re up to 20 states now using laws to “protect religious freedom”in the workplace that are so vague and poorly thought-out that they could easily be used to discriminate against entire groups of people. Legalized exclusion.
And by the way, anyone around here heard of separation of church and state?
Beyond that, I don’t even understand these positions in terms of the workplace. If you believe that gay marriage is wrong, don’t marry someone of the same sex. But how is taking money from someone who is married to a person of the same sex against your religion? You’re a business set up to provide a product or service in exchange for money, they’re asking you to provide that product or service in exchange for money. Their legal tender money, not their gay money.
And how can someone be sure that they’re not doing business with people of whose lifestyle they disapprove? Should we all have to fill out a personal questionnaire before we’re allowed to order coffee?
1. Are you gay? Sorry, no coffee.
2. Are you affiliated with a religion other than that of the proprietor? Sorry, no coffee.
3. Have you lived with someone before marriage? Sorry, no coffee.
4. Have you ever accepted government assistance? Sorry, no coffee.
5. Are you a high school drop out? Sorry, no coffee.
6. Are you of mixed race? Sorry, no coffee.
7. Have you ever been accused of a crime? Gotten a parking ticket? Sorry, no coffee.
8. Have you ever lied? Sorry, no coffee.
9. Got an overdue library book? Unpaid fines? Sorry, no coffee.
10. Do you like Limoncello Cookies? Sorry, no coffee.
Seems to me we’re going to end up a far less caffeinated society.
My bottom line is this: if the love of a person whose identity includes a religious affiliation is stronger than the love of that institution for all who seek to worship, there is something truly wrong here. We, as the human beings who make up organized religions, have lost our way.
Religion is a blanket not a sword.
PS: I'm all over the place this week. Where you can read more by me:
My recipe roundup Fifty Recipes: Mother's Day All Day was published on The Huffington Post Taste.
My piece Ancestry: Do you Really Want to Know Who you are? was published on BLUNTmoms.
My post Holding On While Letting Go was published on Felicity Huffman's website What The Flicka?
1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
¾ cups sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
¼ cup limoncello
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
3 TBSP white sugar
2 TBSP yellow colored sugar
*Cream the butter, margarine and sugars until smooth. Beat in the egg, lemon extract and limoncelo. Beat in the flour, baking soda and salt starting at the lowest speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
*Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover baking sheets in parchment paper.
*Mix together the 3 TBSP white sugar and 2 TBSP yellow colored sugar.
*Roll the dough into approximately ½ inch balls. Dip the top of each dough ball into the sugar mixture. Place on the parchment paper, sugar side up.
*Bake for 11 - 13 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to cool completely.